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Changes to the pardons program

The government of Canada has made significant changes to the pardons program. People can apply for a pardon if they were convicted of a criminal offence, completed a sentence, and demonstrated that they were law-abiding citizens for a certain number of years. If they are pardoned, their criminal records are kept separate and apart from other criminal records. A pardon can make it easier to apply for a job, seek custody of children, apply to immigrate, rent an apartment, travel outside the country, or carry out many other activities.

Here are some of the recent changes:

  • Summary offences are the most minor types of offences under the Criminal Code of Canada. For these offences, there is still a 3-year waiting period after the sentence has been completed, but evidence of good behaviour is now also required.
  • A Schedule 1 offence is an offence under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act that is considered minor enough to be tried as a lesser, or summary, offence. For these offences, the previous 3-year waiting period is now 5 years.
  • For sexual offences and section 752 serious personal injury offences, the previous 5-year waiting period is now 10 years.
  • For other indictable offences, there is still a 5-year waiting period.

Please see the Justice BC website for more information about types of offences.

The Parole Board of Canada website has fact sheets that explain when people can apply for pardons, how to apply, and other important information. There are nine steps to applying for a pardon. The Parole Board provides step-by-step instructions and application forms.

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